GBA is excited to announce our 2016 Luminary Award honoree: Mike Gable, executive director of Construction Junction.
Under Mike’s leadership for all 17 years of its existence, Construction Junction is Western Pennsylvania’s first nonprofit organization to collect and sell used and surplus building materials. Partially seeded in concept by Conservation Consultants, Inc. and Green Building Alliance, Construction Junction (CJ) was founded by the Pennsylvania Resources Council. Since its organizational inception, Mike has been CJ’s executive director. Nearly two decades later, he continues to strongly lead Construction Junction’s efforts to support and promote conservation through the reuse of building materials and waste reduction in the region.
Mike Gable has grown Construction Junction from a project to determine if Pittsburghers were interested in materials reuse to a successful organization with more than 53,000 purchases, 30 employees, and annual donations from approximately 10,000 homeowners, contractors, developers, and institutions who choose reuse over the landfill. CJ has been a financially self-sustaining organizations over the last 10 years with about $2 million in building material sales and its highly successful fundraiser the Steel City Big Pour (coming up on September 10).
Throughout his tenure, Mike has placed a strong focus on ensuring that CJ supplies materials and furniture to environmentally sustainable building projects, art installations, theater productions, community gardens, social service organizations, and more.
From CJ’s start, Mike has prioritized local communities. By working collaboratively with other nonprofits and local organizations, Mike has engaged a wide variety of groups and people in reuse. As a result, CJ-led programs have given organizations and citizens a hand in achieving regional materials reuse goals. For instance, CJ ReGives donates building materials and furniture to local environmental, social, and art-focused nonprofits. In 2015, the program distributed $25,000 of materials to 43 area nonprofits. CJ partners with Goodwill to provide job training and employment programs to those with barriers to employment.
A big new CJ collaboration with the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Urban Design Build Studio at Carnegie Mellon University is Project RE, which connects people just out of incarceration with the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh and CMU architecture students to “Reuse materials. Rebuild communities. Restore lives.” Together, these 3 organizations are prototyping structures for communities that address or solve a need – and building the solution. Mike’s passionate role in Project RE enables students to learn construction skills, establish job history, experience the potential of used materials, and learn how to add value to them while building projects together. Project RE’s novel and uncharted use of an architecture program embedded in a material reuse operation is the only one of its kind in the United States. Construction Junction’s own community room was built through Project RE program and is designed to be taken apart and reused someday. Check out this 4-minute video to see Project RE in action.
Project RE students working on Constructions Junction’s community room
Project RE students’ progress on Construction Junction’s community room
Anyone who has ever met Mike Gable can tell you that he has a hunger to explore how materials reuse can impact the lives of as many different people and businesses as possible. Along this journey, Mike has continued to be inspired by the many innovative and unique uses he sees for the materials that come through CJ’s doors. Being a part of the reuse movement’s growth and personally experiencing how reuse pushes the bounds of creativity and what’s possible inspires Mike to remain steadfast and achieve greater success for CJ, our communities, and our region.
GBA is excited to honor Mike Gable with our 2016 Luminary Award, celebrating his commitment, hard work, and success in supporting healthy and high performing places throughout Western Pennsylvania. Please join us at the 2016 Emerald Evening on September 15 to celebrate Mike’s achievements!